Red panda cubs born at Seneca Park Zoo
Monroe County Executive Adam Bello and the Seneca Park Zoo announced that 4-year-old Starlight has given birth to two male cubs, the first red panda birthing in the zoo’s 128-year history.
“The birth of the two red panda cubs is exciting for the Seneca Park Zoo and our community, and is encouraging news for ensuring the sustainability of red panda populations,” Bello said. “I want to thank zoo director Steve Lacy, Dr. Louis DiVincenti, lead red panda keeper Heidi Beifus and the rest of the talented staff at the Seneca Park Zoo for their dedication to caring for the cubs and their new mom. We can’t wait to be able to share our newest zoo additions with residents and visitors.”
Starlight came to the zoo in 2018 from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. Her mate, Willie, 6, arrived in 2020 by way of the Knoxville Zoo. Both are first-time parents.
“Even as a first-time mom, Starlight has taken perfect care of her two cubs,” Beifus said. “We are confident they are in good hands as they grow.”
The cubs will remain in their nest box — out of public viewing — until they are 2 or 3 months old.
“This successful birth is the result of careful planning and preparation,” said DiVincenti, assistant zoo director. “Our red pandas play an important role as ambassador for their wild counterparts and we look forward to them helping our community foster a connection to red pandas in the wild.”
The pairing was recommended by Red Panda Species Survival Plan, which ensures the conservation of red pandas across zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Native to southwestern China and the eastern Himalayas, red pandas are threatened by habitat loss and poaching throughout their natural range. Visit redpandanetwork.org for information.